In what is slowly becoming a Minneapolis tradition, “DRAKE NITE 4” hits the 7th St. Entry this Thursday. The dance party dedicated to the Canadian rapper and cult figure is expected to bring in over a thousand people.
To some folks, this might seem a bit baffling — why do people pay for a Drake dance party they could recreate at their house?
“It’s not just a dance party — it’s an experience,” said Chris Cloud, one of the organizers behind “DRAKE NITE.”
As a creative strategist for a wide range of projects including art, music videos and, yes, dance parties, Cloud is an active participant in the Twin Cities cultural scene.
Since the event’s debut last November, “DRAKE NITE” has continued to grow. Two out of the three previous “DRAKE NITE” events sold out. The last “DRAKE NITE” brought together 1,200 fans — an impressive feat considering it took place on a subzero Sunday night.
While Minneapolis isn’t the only city that throws Drizzy-themed dance parties, Cloud said it’s a unique event.
Aside from hours of Drake music, the organizers throw in other spontaneous elements: laser lights, Drake GIFs and a photo booth, to name a few. Once upon a “DRAKE NITE,” inflatable basketballs flooded the crowd as his collaboration with Future, “Jumpman,” roared through the speakers.
Another key component to the success of “DRAKE NITE” is its community.
“It’s a lot different when you’re with hundreds of people and you sing along to songs and you’re vibing with people. The energy really builds, and it kind of comes together,” Cloud said.
Soham Patel, co-founder of the University of Minnesota Drake Club, agrees. Patel attended “DRAKE NITE 3” last month.
“It was really interesting. My favorite part, obviously, was the music. But also people getting along and enjoying the music together,” Patel said.
Bach Pham, also known as DJ Bach, is another “DRAKE NITE” team member in charge of keeping the energy alive.
He said playing a set of Drake songs is harder than it seems.
“We really take what we do seriously, so I think it shows in the quality of the night. Anyone can play Drake songs, but I really try to mix them in an interesting way because he has a rich catalogue,” Pham said.
In addition to focusing on the perfect balance between old and new, Pham bases his sets off the moods and themes in each Drake song, as well as the audience’s reactions.
Despite Pham’s initial skepticism regarding the limitations of a 100 percent Drake set, he was hooked after the first “DRAKE NITE.”
“At first I liked Drake, but now I love him,” Pham said.
General enthusiasm for the rapper himself is the ultimate reason for the event’s popularity. While Drake has been a popular figure for years, his viral 2015 hit “Hotline Bling” and public beef with Meek Mill propelled him to cult legend status.
“He’s polarizing, he’s magnetic and he reaches out to all types of people,” Cloud said.
Patel and Bach agreed. Drake has an uncanny ability to reach out to every demographic. His fans are diverse in age, race and gender. His versatility and knack for crossing multiple genres also enables him to reach a wide audience. Plus, Internet popularity goes a long way.
“He’s like a living meme,” Pham said.
Plans for future “DRAKE NITE” events are already in the works. According to Cloud, fans can expect an extravagant sixth installment to represent the rapper’s Toronto roots.
“Even though Drake’s not there, 6 God is watching and 6 God is always there. He’s not there in the flesh, but his energy is there,” Cloud said.